Your article last week about Strawberry Fields having their planning application for a ‘farm manager’s home’ turned down would seem like a decision from the twilight zone.

This business over the years has grown from a simple farm to a well-known pick your own, it has expanded to become a well-loved and admired business and also a destination point for locals and holidaymakers alike. It is a fully-fledged farm of many acres with cows and sheep plus crops, a national award-winning large farm shop, restaurant and wedding venue, and self-catering holiday cottages. 

All of this has a large staffing requirement, so that means there are 165 local people in employment keeping the wheels turning so to speak. The manager’s home we are told, will also contain estate manager’s offices and a conference room. So why would this be refused?

Planning officers justify their disapproval by saying it is unlikely to remain affordable for an agricultural worker’s building? Yes, you read that right, it’s not a joke.  How short-sighted can some be?

The point of an agricultural tenancy was so that those with a small parcel of land could then build a house so they could better care for their animals. This is not a smallholding; this is a successful enterprise bringing vast amounts of money, employment and praise to the local area. I commend the local parish council and the local community for seeing the need to help this business with its plans for growth. We should all be mindful of the new houses being built in sight of Strawberry Fields, they will need food and some might be lucky enough to gain employment there. I am probably not alone thinking, how is it that WDBC bends over backwards to accommodate developers building executive homes, unneeded by local folk, but a house needed to secure the future of a successful local business gets unanimously damned by councillors. No jealousy or envy here then?

I would advise Mr Peter Wonnacott and the Mounces [farm owners] to take their application to wiser and higher authorities who, I have no doubt, will see the merit of this application, and I wish them the very best of luck in achieving their goals. 

Michael Fife Cook

Mary Tavy